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The How's & Whys of Screening Your Tenants Beforehand - Our Guide

As someone who owns a rental property business, you will want to make sure that you’re choosing the right tenants to move into your property. If you don’t properly screen your tenants before accepting them, you could end up with an irresponsible tenant who doesn’t pay rent, or worse, does major damages to your property.

You want to avoid this from happening at all costs, which is why you must do background checks of potential tenants beforehand. Below are four tips of how you can screen your potential tenants effectively:

1. Set proper and reasonable criteria

By making a list of qualifications or criteria, you’ll be able to select only the right tenants. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you shouldn’t set the bar too high; if not, you’re not going to find anyone who’s willing to rent out your place. Keep it reasonable while still aligning it with your expectations. Here are sample questions that you can include in your qualification list:

  • Are they easy to work with?

  • Do they have a clean criminal record?

  • Do they fit your lifestyle requirements?

  • Do they make enough income to afford your rent?

  • Are they currently employed and have job stability?

  • What are the chances that they won’t pay rent on time? Do they have instances of not paying rent in the past?

2. Keep an eye out for red flags

It’s safe to say that there will be those who will not be honest, especially when they know that you have a set qualification for choosing tenants. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to know for sure. During the property show, which is the first time you’ll meet the tenant in person, there are red flags to watch out for, such as:

Disrespectful and arrogant

Unorganized and distraught

Showing up late to the meet or didn’t show up at all

Refuses to secure any requirement or have their credit and background thoroughly checked

3. Ask current employers for fact-checking

Since the plan is to rent out your property to a tenant for the long-term, you don’t want to get into trouble of late payment or worse, having to go through the lengthy process of eviction just to get them out. You will want to make sure that they are responsible employees since that can help determine if they’re able to pay rent on time. Reach out to the tenant’s employer and verify their salary and whether or not they’re a long-term employee.

4. Ask previous landlords to verify the tenant’s integrity

While a tenant who’s willing to disclose their previous landlord’s information already shows good credibility, it’s still best to verify for certainty. Reach out to former landlords and ask:

Did they pay their rent on time?

Did they take care of the property?

Did the person rent previously from you?

Did they leave the property clean and in good condition?

Did the tenant be bothersome or a nuisance to other tenants?

By asking these questions, you’ll get a general idea of how the tenant behaves in terms of renting. You’re also confirming whether or not the information the tenant disclosed is true and if they’re responsible and have a sense of integrity.


Taking care of your rental property business involves entrusting it to the renters. By making sure that the tenant is responsible and trustworthy, you’ll have fewer worries and feel less anxious about the state of your property.

Screening tenants, however, take time, especially if you’re renting out many properties, and your business is growing. Over time, it’ll be impossible to background-check every applying tenant by yourself.

This is why you need a property manager! We are a group of individuals who are passionate about helping landlords build their rental property business in NYC. If you’re in need of reliable property management services, get in touch with us today! We’re always happy to help.

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